Despite its celebrated place in the American imagination, the backyard pool as both object and technology has largely gone unexamined by historians. In this paper, we begin to remedy that gap, tracing its explosive rise back to 1940s Southern California. From there, we examine the various technological, economic, and architectural forces that guided its journey from plaything of the rich to banal accoutrement of backyards across the Southern Californian suburbs. But as quickly as they appeared, pools morphed into something new, and wholly unexpected: spaces for skateboarding. As many pools were drained due to drought, water levels receded to reveal smooth walls and curves that were perfect for skating on, launching skateboarding into a new era. Additional technological advancements in truck and wheel design allowed skaters to take advantage of these gunite surfaces, whose popularity would in turn influence the construction of skateparks around the country and cause participation in the sport to explode. Drawing from both historical and architectural sources, we argue that the technological advancement of these two sports was brought about not just by inventors but by individuals adapting existing technology to new sportive purposes.
Murtha, R., & Ozyurtcu, T. (2022). From Stroke to Stoke: The Multiple Sporting Legacies of the Southern California Home Swimming Pool. International Journal of the History of Sport, 39(1), 92–110. https://doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2021.1976155